As you might already know, many recommend that, once you decide to start losing weight, you should start keeping a food journal. A food journal is nothing more than a notebook where you write down everything you ate in a day.
Food journals can be a real help in the whole weight loss process. They help you keep track of what you eat, how often, how many calories do you eat on a daily basis etc.
First things first – buy a notebook
Well, the first thing you need to do when deciding to keep a food journal is buy an actual notebook. If you find it easier, you can keep track of everything you eat on the computer too. I, for example, recommend using Microsoft Excel or something similar.
Look for calorie tables for foods
In order to keep an accurate food journal, you need to know how many calories the foods you eat have per each serving. Calculating how many calories and grams of fat or protein your lunch has sounds like a boring and difficult task but, once you get the hang of everything, you’ll see how you will easily be able to control your portions, your calorie intake and be able to make better choices for yourself.
When I looked for the calorie content of different foods, I found that the information varies a lot depending on where you find it. Because of it, I think that USDA National Nutrient Database is the most accurate. At least I hope so!
Start writing things down
The idea of keeping a food journal is simple. Every time you eat or drink something other than water, you write it down.
You drink coffee in the morning, write that down.
You had cereals and milk for breakfast, write that down.
Everything you had for lunch – write it in your journal.
Why keep a food journal?
Well, to better explain the importance of the food journal, let’s say it’s 4 in the afternoon. You have had breakfast and lunch and had a coffee in between. You have eaten, say, about 600-700 calories until now and feel the need to have a snack.
Well, in this case, the journal and BMR calculator can be of great help for your weight loss. Let’s say the calculator says that you have to eat 1300 calories a day in order to lose some weight. You have already eaten half of that. What could you have as a snack, in order to not exceed your calorie intake after you have had dinner? Well, if you plan on eating a 400 calorie dinner, you have room for a 200 calorie snack.
See? The journal helps you a lot and saves you a lot of calories.
How long must you keep a food journal?
Even if keeping a journal of everything you eat is very helpful, it can get a bit annoying to keep writing stuff down every time you eat a bread crumb.
The food journal has a purpose though: to help you realize how big your food portions should be, what foods have more or less calories, fat, etc. and how to organize your meals in order to have balance in your diet.
Once you get the hang of it and think you can do this on your own, you can stop keeping track of every single thing you put in your mouth. It may take you a few days, a week or even a few months. Once you know what is good for your diet and what ruins it, you should be OK.
Have you ever kept a food journal? How useful was it for you?